Is It Possible to Have a Stroke in Your Sleep?

Sleep strokes can postpone life-saving medical intervention since they occur while you're asleep. Because of this, they may be more dangerous than other kinds of stroke.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or bursts, or when a blocked artery stops blood flow to the brain. A stroke that occurs while you're asleep is referred to as a "wake-up stroke."

We'll go over all you need to know about sleep strokes in the coming paragraphs, including their causes, symptoms, and recognition techniques.

What causes a stroke in your sleep?

When you go to bed feeling well and showing no indications of a stroke, you could wake up experiencing the symptoms of a wake-up stroke. It can be challenging to pinpoint the precise moment of a wake-up stroke; all that is known is that it occurred while the patient was asleep.

Although statistics indicate that wake-up strokes account for 20% of all acute ischemic strokes, the exact cause of sleep strokes is still unknown.

A 2017 paper reviewed the literature on wake-up strokes' genesis, progression, and clinical characteristics. The authors state that they have identified two variables that may increase one's risk of suffering a sleep stroke:
  • Time of day: Research has indicated that there is an increased chance of stroke in the early morning hours, particularly between the hours of six in the morning and noon.
  • Health conditions: Studies indicate that certain medical disorders, such as atrial fibrillation and obstructive sleep apnea, may elevate the likelihood of experiencing a sleep stroke.
Apart from these risk factors, there doesn't seem to be any clinical distinction between strokes that occur when an individual is awake and wake-up strokes.

However, patients typically aren't able to receive medical attention immediately since wake-up strokes occur when the victim is asleep. An untreated stroke can worsen brain damage and raise the chance of death if it is not treated quickly.

Is it rare to have a stroke in your sleep?

Strokes occurring while you sleep may not be as uncommon as you might believe. Several red wake-up strokes could potentially represent as much as 25% of all stroke cases.

In a 2019 study, the association between wake-up and non-wake-up stroke outcomes and obstructive sleep apnea was investigated. About one-third of the stroke cases included in this study were wake-up strokes.

Researchers examined the frequency of wake-up strokes and strokes with uncertain onset in more than 60,300 patients in a bigger study conducted in 2022. According to the study's findings, about 19% of strokes were wake-up strokes, while another 18.4% had no documented beginning time.

How do I know if I had a stroke in my sleep?

When a person gets a stroke while they are asleep, their wake-up symptoms are the neurological signs of the stroke. Among these symptoms that manifest right away are:
  • trouble walking or loss of balance
  • severe and sudden headache
  • trouble understanding others
  • confusion or disorientation
  • numbness or paralysis on one side of the body, especially in the arm, leg, or face
  • difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • nausea, vomiting, or dizziness
  • seizures or loss of consciousness
  • blackened, blurred, or double vision
Using the "FAST" method is another technique to determine whether or not someone has had a stroke. FAST stands for facial drooping, arm weakness, trouble speaking, and the emphasis on "time"—that is, receiving assistance as soon as feasible.

Can you prevent a stroke while sleeping?

Genetics, age, and gender are some of the risk factors for stroke that are beyond our control. There are a few strategies you can use to lower your chance of having a stroke, though.

Reducing potentially dangerous lifestyle behaviours is one of the biggest methods to reduce your risk of stroke. Addressing certain behaviours can reduce your risk, such as smoking cigarettes or consuming more alcohol than a low to moderate amount each day.

Receiving the appropriate medical attention for other illnesses that raise your risk of stroke is another strategy to lower your risk of having one. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation are a few of these ailments.

Lastly, you may make sure that you frequently move your body, consume a lot of nutritional meals, and get enough sleep to give your heart the support it needs.


A type of stroke that occurs while a person is asleep is referred to as a sleep stroke, also called a wake-up stroke. Studies show that wake-up strokes account for 20% of all ischemic strokes, while this number may be greater.

If you or a loved one exhibits stroke symptoms, particularly in the early stages of consciousness, it is critical to seek immediate medical attention or dial 911.


What causes a wake-up stroke?

Sleep-disordered breathing with or without patent foramen ovale

Can you wake up during a stroke?

It is possible for a stroke that occurred while you were asleep to cause symptoms to manifest in the morning.

Can a healthy person have a stroke?

Anyone can have a stroke

Is sleeping good for brain stroke?

Sleep promotes neuroplasticity after stroke.

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